Friday, January 09, 2009

"Medea" Backtrack: Set Design

I should have blogged about this long ago, but I supposed I had totally forgotten about it!

When our class got the copy of the script "Medea", we were supposed to first come out with the design for Cornell Box, and then from there carry on to make a set design, and subsequently the costume design. All these, of course, are just for assignment purposes and not meant to be really materialised.

As stated in my previous post, I had adapted my setting to ancient India and there is a reason why I did that. The whole concept behind my set design for “Medea” came from a single idea of Kali, the Hindu Goddess usually associated with destruction and death. In turn, Kali is a manifestation of Parvati, the benevolent Supreme Divine Mother. The multiple manifestation of the Supreme Divine Mother shared some similarities to Medea, as she has many faces to her as well; Medea is a sorceress, a vengeful wife and a seemingly loving mother (as she claimed to be in the script) all rolled into one. Medea’s ultimate destructive nature also parallel to a certain extent to Kali, but at the same time contrast with the Goddess in the sense that Kali kill demons for maintaining peace on earth, but Medea kills for revenge. Based on the above aspects, I have decided to transpose the setting from ancient Greece to ancient India.

The set consist of 4 components, flats showing distorted structures of a Hindu shrine depicting the distorted perspective of Medea’s world, enormous holy Hindu scriptures in the form of raked platforms representing Medea’s beliefs in the Gods, an inverted cut-out of a Indian landscape on a seamless translucent canvas for the projection of washes to create different dramatic moods and a turn-able rostra which shows the idol of Parvati on one side and the “throne” for Medea on the back.

At the start of the show, Medea is in the temple of Parvati pouring her heart out at the Goddess. The skyline is deep blue, echoing the melancholy of Medea. The chorus, in the form of fairies by the sides of the Goddess, appears to console and give advices to Medea. After Medea kills her children, the skyline turned red to symbolize bloodshed, and at the same time, the flats showing the distorted structures flies off and the “statue” of Parvati turns around to show Medea’s “throne”. Medea, who now appears dressed like Kali climbed onto her throne, suggesting that she is her own God. The whole rostra rolls off upstage and the black centre curtains draw in, masking out the entire upstage, leaving only Jason all alone on stage.

Below here are images of my final set design:

And here are my initial set concept, and an intermediate design before I derive at my final one:

Dollie Finale: The "Medea" Story

For the past 1 month, I have been sewing, cutting, defraying and hurting my fingers like a costume-making machine, and finally today I have them all submitted to my lecturer. Hence here I present, the costume design for "Medea" the play! For those who are wondering how come the costumes I've shown in my last pose looked so Indian despite the fact that "Medea" was set in ancient Greece, I've actually adapted it into Indian setting, reason for that will be given in my next post on the set design (something which I had done last semester but just realised that I've not blogged about it yet!)

Costume for Medea at start of play. Her exaggerated sari has got a long end which sweep across the floor, and together with the peacock motif suggested her pride, elegance, and difference from other ordinary woman. She is dressed in South Indian style as I've set her to be of South Indian origin, as opposed to the North Indian adaptation of the play.
Costume for Medea after she killed her two sons. She seemed to have changed into another character, as she thought she is Kali by destructing whatever gets in her way, but of course she is not, hence her appearance her shows some similarity to common portrayal of the Goddess, but yet still very different.

Jason the future Princess Consort, hence dressed like a Prince.

Costume for King Creon of Gupta Empire (in original text the place is Corinth). About the same style as Jason, but more elaborate.

Costume for King Aegeus of Sassanid Empire (in original text the place is Athens). Although he's also a King, but he dressed differently from Creon, for obviously he's from Persia.

Costume for Chorus. Instead of women in the street, my Chorus is made up of fairy maidens transformed from temple statues.

Costume for the Nurse. The nurse in my adaptation is a comical role and of slightly higher importance because she knew well what is going on in the household, unlike Medea who is trapped in her own world.

Costume for Tutor. Other than King Aegeus, he's the only man in the show to wear garment for the upper body, because he's the more educated one. In my adaptation he's almost a comical role like the nurse.